CLEVELAND – Adrian Beltre is destined for Cooperstown, the place where he will be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
With four Silver Sluggers, five gold gloves, two platinum gloves and four All-Star game selections, the 38-year-old third baseman has done just about everything to cement his legacy as an elite player on both sides of the ball.
One more accolade joined his ever-growing resume on Tuesday evening at Progressive Field.
Cody Allen served up Beltre’s 450th career home run in the ninth inning, a go-ahead shot that pulled the Rangers ahead of the Indians, 2-1. The solo blast gave him sole possession of 39th place on the game’s all-time home run list.
The score stayed true to form, spoiling Mike Clevinger’s six innings of one-run ball in a game where offensive production came at a premium.
“[Clevinger] pitched unbelievable,” said Allen. “He did everything he could. Unfortunately we weren’t able to hold it down there at the end. That’s baseball. Their guy threw the ball pretty well too.”
A shoulder-high fastball to Beltre proved to be the defining moment of the pitcher’s duel, a first-pitch offering that came moments after Allen handily set down Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus…
Result: Adrian Beltre’s go-ahead solo home run on a first-pitch four-seam fastball
Pitch Velocity: 94.2-mph
Hit Probability: 60%
On first glance, the location of this heater up in the zone seems to be a solid spot, especially for a pitcher that can change the eye level and bend a 12-6 curveball at any point in the count.
“I felt like it was a pretty good pitch, kind of what we were trying to do to him there,” Allen said. “He got me. He took a good swing. It wasn’t a bad pitch. He was just ready for it, didn’t’ miss it. He’s done it quite a few times.”
Not only was Beltre the oldest player on the field, but he also has the hitting experience to slug any pitch he sees out of the ballpark…
In looking at Beltre’s slugging percentage for each region in the strike zone over his 20-year big league tenure, not one square stands out over the other.
He is simply an elite hitter.
“Fastball got elevated on him and he was able to get it there,” said bench coach Brad Mills. “Sometimes you got to tip your hat. At the same time, he threw the ball so well last night obviously, (and) was throwing the ball tonight as well. Just one pitch got up and got hit.”
Allen pitched to his strengths, firing a fastball at peak velocity at a tough-to-hit region of the zone.
Sometimes, Hall of Fame caliber players do incredible things on a baseball field.
“You’re out there to get three outs, help the team try to win a ballgame,” Allen said. “Tonight was one of those nights, I felt like I had pretty good stuff, making some good pitches. I just flat-out got beat tonight. So just tip your cap, come back tomorrow and try to get them.”
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.